A weekend of climate change and hope

Republished: OP-ED, OCT. 1, 2014

A CCL Volunteer writes about a weekend of climate change and hope at the People’s Climate March in New York City.

By John Hermanson

A weekend of climate change and hope with CCL at the People's Climate March.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby members march with climate scientist Dr. James Hansen (with hat, left) in the People’s Climate March last month in New York City.

I was in New York City along with some 400,000 other people for the People’s Climate March. This worldwide happening of 2,808 individual events took place in 166 countries on Sept. 21 declared by many as a historic day. Our Wisconsin based contingency included a rag-tag rainbow of people mostly representing themselves but including members of the Federation of United Tribes, people of faith, NAACP, sand mine activists, 350.org, students and grandparents.

All of us were full of gratitude to be able to go express ourselves on the streets quietly, boldly but all civilly respectful. Our busload had multiple perspectives, as did those that we converged with from around the world.

While the exact form of changes we, our institutions and communities desire and need to take place will be decided based on location, affiliation and multiple other variables it seems prudent to move forward with our existing way of gathering and distributing resources in a more just, fair and effective way through market forces that reflect the real cost of carbon in our atmosphere.

The earth is not going to wait for us to be one big happy family.

Last year was the world’s largest emissions of carbon in history. We best learn to tolerantly hold the tension of moving forward on multiple fronts focusing on key game-changing actions such as removing fossil fuel subsidies and their divestment, getting the hoards of money out of politics, asking that Wisconsin utilities not stranglehold competition and most importantly asking Congress to enact a revenue neutral carbon tax as proposed by Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

In Wisconsin we are in the hot seat of activity with 75 percent of U.S. fracking sand being mined here, Canadian tar sands oil passing on our rails and pipelines at ever increasing dangerous rates and an agricultural system that is going to be challenged with all the fossil fuels and other greenhouse gases emitted.

My NYC take-home message is of steadfast hope and opportunity that the challenges of a warming planet bring.

What’s required of us is to actively engage. If you want a big cup of hope and inspiration go to Young Voices for the Planet website to watch short movies how the youth are changing the world.

Other hopeful resources include Stanford’s Solutions Project showing state-by-state how we can transition to renewable energy sources and Rodale Institute showing how farming can change to adapt to reduce its greenhouse footprint. Germany produced 31 percent of its electricity from renewables in the first half of 2014. Carbon can be put back in the soil with better agriculture practices and by trees.

While the experience of marching with so many people with a common cause was moving the highlight for many was the experience of hundreds of thousands of people holding their hands up into the sky asking for silence as if in a kindergarten schoolroom.

Silence was broken a minute later by a glorious howl of hope as a virtual wave of sound moved through the standing marchers. It was reminiscent of the feeling one gets from the jets flying just over Lambeau Field at a Packers game.

John Hermanson of Luxemburg is the treasurer of the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin.